There is arguably no more important step in the data lifecycle process than integration. When we move to a new city, into a new home, or start a new career, we are effectively taking all our economic, social, and cultural values into an established but an also unfamiliar environment that we now call our own.
Collecting construction project information is no different. As-builts, schedules, budgets, and contracts are all fluid as the unique data associated with them. Therefore, it’s critical that as your organization or project evolves, there is a reliable system in place to fulfill all your project information needs.
What is data integrity?
Data integrity refers to the accuracy, reliability, and consistency of stored data over its entire lifecycle. With construction projects, data can be unknowingly duplicated, outdated, or outright false delaying project milestone deadlines and inflating a project’s construction budget. Adding to the complication, complex infrastructure projects such as airport terminal expansion can have tens of thousands of physical assets from taxiway centerline light cans to air handler units that all need to be inventoried and be included in close-out submittals. Plans can always change, and unexpected audits can always happen. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Why is integration important?
When integrating any data, we must understand that data is dynamic and may not necessarily be suited for an Excel spreadsheet or Access relational database that we all know and love. Data integration makes data more freely available and easier to consume and process by systems and users. If done properly, it can reduce IT costs, free-up resources, improve data quality, and foster innovation all without drastic changes to existing applications or data structures. Certain aspects of projects may involve sensitive security information (SSI) or contain proprietary information that requires limited access. In this era of information security, preventing data leaks and breaches is more important than ever. When the integrity of data is secure, the information stored in a database will remain complete, accurate, and reliable no matter how long it’s stored or how often it’s accessed. You need a system that can put your data security first.
How to integrate actionable data
Data is only useful if it is timely and actionable. Modern organizations and construction projects are drowning in data but starving for information. Data can also take the form of dates, numbers, text, and files holding that data from a variety of applications that are only accessible to certain parties. If data is cleaned, organized, and archived it not only becomes useful throughout the construction project but after closeout too. You can integrate your project data into software from the Acquisition and Planning Phase into the Bidding Phase, Construction Execution Phase to the Project Closeout and Punch List Phase and Digital Twin Turnover.
Who is going to use this data?
Stakeholders have different data needs. A specification sheet showing an airfield electrician the model numbers of all the newly installed taxiway signs is nice to have but a spreadsheet created by the contractor detailing the preventative maintenance plan for the sign panels is far more beneficial. Imagine having this data right at your fingertips without the wait or figuring out who to call. By having a robust and secure system in place to store all your project information, all team members on a project can collaborate on objectives and accomplish tasks on time. Have your data audit ready. All the time.
How can the project team benefit?
Having the project team identify their data needs is essential for the integration process of a project to succeed. This can be a subcontractor wanting to share a multi-layered plumbing blueprint with an engineer or the airport security coordinator needing product warranty information from the security camera vendor. For a project team to benefit from data integration, management must support the system that is under development and involve users in the development process. This can ultimately save the two most important things to a project: time and money.
The air travel industry was hit hard by pandemic lockdowns and restrictions. Among the challenges for airports and airlines to overcome were red zone restrictions, vaccine passports, social distancing, and uncertainties around passenger volume. In fact, a McKinsey report found that the Covid-19 pandemic resulted in airlines haemorrhaging $168 billion in economic losses in 2020. While the leisure air travel market is now showing signs of recovery, the once-lucrative business travel sector has been slower (for now).
As restrictions have eased across the globe, the industry is working hard to build back confidence but also meet changed customer expectations around frictionless journeys. To achieve this, revive growth and ensure continued profitability, air travel operators are looking for ways to gain a competitive advantage that captures more of the available market while also minimising their costs.
Technological innovations are at the heart of improving efficiency and productivity for customer-facing airline operations. Automating processes on smart devices can enhance customer experience at every touchpoint, while actively reducing costs.
Winning the hearts of passengers
After two years of disruption, a smooth, frictionless journey is highly desirable for passengers, and offering this experience differentiates an airline. When facing unpredictable passenger volumes and changing safety requirements – which, let’s be honest, might return at any point – airlines need flexible and easy-to-implement solutions.
Using smart data capture on mobile devices has multiple benefits. Unlike fixed scanners, it enables customer service agents to perform multiple tasks anywhere in the airport. Airlines can automate processes such as check-in, security queues, lounge access, and luggage management, providing a modern, sleek impression from the first moment a passenger enters the terminal.
Compared with the old approach of using rugged devices at fixed stations, smart data capture on mobile devices delivers significant customer benefits and staff efficiencies. Airport queues have been big news recently, but with staff equipped with smart mobile devices, waiting times can be cut as they can patrol queues and scan IDs, passports and QR codes to speed passengers through check-in and deliver a more personalised experience – accessing details about a passenger’s seat preferences or dietary requirements, for example.
Customer service agents using smart mobile devices can easily manage oversized luggage presented at the gate and quickly check it into the hold. They can instantly issue vouchers to delayed or inconvenienced passengers by scanning boarding cards or codes, and provide smarter assistance when it comes to lost luggage. Giving an agent the power of mobility during check-in ensures that passengers who require assistance can be served at their seats, rather than requiring them to come to a podium.
Reducing operational costs with multifunctional devices
Managing the bottom line is critical, post-Covid. Replacing fixed hardware, like boarding gate readers, with scanning-enabled apps that work on mobile devices reduces the total cost of ownership by between 35% and 50%.
In the airport, efficiency is of the utmost importance. Freed from bulky hardware, agents can ensure faster flight boarding avoiding costly delays. Should a flight transfer from one gate to another, it’s a quick and easy task for customer service agents to pick up their mobile devices and walk to the new gate.
Using smart data capture solutions allows air travel operators to provide passengers with cost-efficient self-service options. By integrating smart scanning into a customer app or website, passengers can check in online, confirm their COVID certification or vaccination status, check in their bags and receive flight information. This helps to reduce congestion in the airport, ensuring a seamless experience and reducing costs incurred by delays or time-consuming procedures.
Employee onboarding and training is also improved when using a single smart device. The intuitive experience from a mobile app that employees are already familiar with eases acceptance and minimises the training required.
Smart scanning also provides opportunities for more upsells and cross-sells. More passenger insights are captured from the scans, and are available instantly, while the transaction can be easily completed with mobile point of sale.
Predicting the unpredictable
The global COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of future-proofing air travel operations. With customers flocking to airport gates in a post-pandemic world plus the risk of sudden changes in travel rules, having a scalable, flexible and cost-effective solution is the key to managing unpredictable passenger numbers in the coming months.
Scalability and flexibility are two significant advantages of smart data capture. Every staff member with a smart device can become a mobile agent delivering passenger services, so handling fluctuating passenger numbers and new operational demands is easy. It eliminates the need to have extra bespoke and expensive equipment to cope with peaks in demand.
With passenger experiences taken to new heights, businesses benefiting from reduced costs and increased efficiencies and employees transformed into customer service superheroes, smart data capture technology is the answer for a seamless, cost-effective travel experience.
Carriers should look for a software provider with a data-first, cloud-based mentality, which means putting data security front and center. Customers’ security and data privacy should be taken seriously and follow the most stringent SOC 2 cloud-based storage regulations.
Leveraging data as efficiently as possible is essential for airlines to compete in an industry with ever-tightening margins. Airlines entrust their software providers with the use of massive volumes of confidential and proprietary data, and the way that data is treated – with the highest fidelity of data security and privacy – is of utmost importance.
How data is cared for can greatly depend on the local governance rules for the region in which the data is stored. Of course, as a carrier, you want the most stringent rules – without compromise. The best method is to find an experienced provider who can hand-pick specific combinations of data storage locations per airline customer to balance the need for data protection governance against performance and reliability.
How should customer data be protected?
When a software provider receives data, they should maintain full encryption at all times – both in situ and in transit.
There are two aspects to this data encryption strategy. One is protecting the data from the place of origin and destination so that only authorized recipients can access the content. At the same time, recipients can also be assured that the content is created by the senders they trust. Transmission of the data over the internet must be protected with industry-standard encryption so that no one else will be able to eavesdrop on the content.
Customer data should be stored in separate domains so that data is not commingling, never leveraging one customer’s data to use on another’s. Each customer data set must be kept securely in its own protected area, and the data should never be shared with other clients without their permission. There should never be a risk that an airline could give its vendor data and have it fall accidentally into a rival’s hands, for example, through human error.
Managing and protecting data in transit
The other part of the encryption strategy, called data in transit, protects the data when it is being moved from one place to another. In this instance, a software provider will use encryption along the way so there cannot be any eavesdropping on the line, for example. This ensures end-to-end encryption with the data at rest and data in transit. Nobody can eavesdrop on it and then pick up what the content is until it reaches a place within the provider’s four walls. Then it is decrypted and processed internally.
But not every airline software provider follows this stringent method of data protection. Many solutions are actually held in-house – also known as on-premise solutions. They are located within the airline itself, on the airline’s servers – they don’t move data around outside the airline – so data security is focused around internal employee access control.
It all comes back to the way a provider has built their cloud solution from the ground up, putting data security front and center. Only then can the front end deliver – with accuracy and authenticity – the most advanced revenue management and commercial insight solutions for airline customers.